20 Long Apisto Tank Build

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tnrsmomma

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I'm finally starting the build on my 20 gallon long tank for breeding Apistogramma Cacatuoides. I thought the 2nd hand tank I am using would be easy to clean but man those hard water stains did not want to come off! Scrubbed with clr, a magic eraser, then bar keeps friend, then used a razor blade for all the stubborn spots still on it. Lots and lots of rinsing but I'm super nervous about putting fish in it after all those chemicals. I'm more than a bit peeved that the lid I ordered cam chipped and cracked. Gotta email Amazon about that. Scape is still a up in the air, but it will be planted of course. I want it as natural as possible, with leaf litter, wood, plants, rocks and caves for breeding. My other tanks are planted but this will be my first time using any sort of fancy planting substrate.
Heading to the lfs monday or tuesday to look at rocks and wood as I'm not inspired or happy with any of the bits and pieces I have floating around. After that, I'll hopefully have a better idea of what I want it to look like!
For now I've poured the bag of fluval in for the fun of it. To rinse or not to rinse though? I've seen mixed reviews on whether or not the fluval stratum should be rinsed. For now, I've left it dry. I'll be back to share more as it progresses!!
 

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Good luck!

Where are you getting your fish? Does your LFS stock apistos?
 
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tnrsmomma

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vicvega said:
Good luck!

Where are you getting your fish? Does your LFS stock apistos?
Thanks! There's a really good lfs called The Wet Spot about half hour from me that stocks a variety of apistos on a regular basis. That's where I try to get all my fish and plants. I've bought from pet smart and another private lfs cuz they are both much closer but every time I've ended up with sick fish and about 50% mortality rate in the first week. All the fish I've gotten from the wet spot except one are healthy and thriving. I've decided I can't be lazy and go to the close by places any more.
 
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I would say give it a rinse, better safe than sorry. Just make sure the water you're using to rinse it is chlorine/chloramine free. Otherwise good luck! Post a pic of the end result.
 
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Sounds like it’s going to be a nice setup. Also I’m pretty jealous you live that close to the Wet Spot, I’m always looking at their website
 
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TWiG87 said:
Sounds like it’s going to be a nice setup. Also I’m pretty jealous you live that close to the Wet Spot, I’m always looking at their website
It's a dangerous place! I really shouldnt be allowed to go in there unsupervised. Lol oh the hours I could spend and the money I could blow! Hehe I have never seen a sick fish in one of their tanks and they have soooo maaaany.
 
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tnrsmomma said:
It's a dangerous place! I really shouldnt be allowed to go in there unsupervised. Lol oh the hours I could spend and the money I could blow! Hehe I have never seen a sick fish in one of their tanks and they have soooo maaaany.
I bet, just going off of their website and how frequently they update it it seems like a good LFS. Very cool
 
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Successful trip to The Wet Spot today! We settled on a rough layout idea to move forward with and Hubby picked a bunch of gorgeous stone that fits really well with some stone I already had. the color differences are more subtle when they are were and both types of rock have similar texture and veins of quartz running through.

Got a lovely long finned lemon drop BN pleco while there but that doesn't have anything to do with this tank build. Lol I just couldn't resist those long flowing fins! Like silk scarves in the wind. Or a pleco shaped betta.

I almost came home with a giraffe catfish but I have. ever heard of them or researched them so I resisted. I am a sucker for a fish with whiskers **** it. Dunno what it is about all those weird looking catfish. I gotta hold off until they get another Banjo Cat or Whiptail in stock.

Anyways, back to the build! My air pump came in the mail so the new sponge filter for the apisto tank is in the main tank getting seeded with bb while we fiddle with rocks and sticks. I dug through the bottom of the bins at The Spot for broken off twigs of spiderwood, bark, rock fragments and things that would fit the scale of the scape and be cheap. My husband picked expensive rocks! **** He can't give me a hard time about me spending on my tanks anymore. Lol I woulda gone down to the creek for rocks but he has a specific look in mind. This tank is a joint project. I get my new tank and my apistos, he gets to be an equal part of the creative process.

Dunno why I started soaking the wood already. Got a bit too excited and ahead of myself. Hehe

Gonna sit down now and try to sketch put the layout we're shooting for and brainstorm plants. If hubby had his way, itd be nothing but a short grass carpet. I convince him the apistos need sand and more hiding spot type plants, not short grass. Did learn at the store that he likes fancy anubias. He zeroed in on anubias stardust and anubias chili.... 2 tiny plants with a combined price tag of 120$$$ holy ****! I had no idea there were such expensive plants. Thankfully he didnt want to buy them, they were just the only ones he liked. **** Told him I'd use anubias, of some much cheaper variety!
 

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Shooting for something along these lines for the hardscape, with various bits of wood as well. For plants, I'm thinking some larger anubias as well as buce and/or anubis nana petite. Amazon compacta or another small to medium sized sword for the back. Not sure about the "carpet" I just worry I won't be able to get the dwarf hair grass to grow or I'll have to trI'm it all the time. Any ideas for an affordable moss that can grow as a carpet? or an idiot proof short carpet plant. The diagonal valley will all be sand as well as the front two or three inches of the tank. No idea yet how to keep the fluval stratum from falling down into the sand in front, aside from making the hills really low and gradual somehow. Oh, and there will be three little caves tucked into the valley and the hills at the ends of the tank. Thoughts? Does this plan seem doable so far?
 

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tnrsmomma said:
Shooting for something along these lines for the hardscape, with various bits of wood as well. For plants, I'm thinking some larger anubias as well as buce and/or anubis nana petite. Amazon compacta or another small to medium sized sword for the back. Not sure about the "carpet" I just worry I won't be able to get the dwarf hair grass to grow or I'll have to trI'm it all the time. Any ideas for an affordable moss that can grow as a carpet? or an idiot proof short carpet plant. The diagonal valley will all be sand as well as the front two or three inches of the tank. No idea yet how to keep the fluval stratum from falling down into the sand in front, aside from making the hills really low and gradual somehow. Thoughts? Does this plan seem doable so far?
Really nice sketch
 
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jinjerJOSH22 said:
Really nice sketch
thanks!! If I can't buy everything and put it all together right this second I can at least obsess about it in other formats right? hehe ;) :p Plus, I just need visuals, its hard for me to picture if it will all look right otherwise. I'll probably end up drawing 3 or 4 more versions, then spend forever arranging and rearranging the rocks for reals before I'm satisfied. Just worried if I play with the rocks in the tank too much I'll drop one and break the tank!
 
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Just bare in mind that the plants will need some sort of fertiliser with the sand. Java moss works OK but it can get pretty messy, it grows like crazy though and on just about anything.
 
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tnrsmomma said:
thanks!! If I can't buy everything and put it all together right this second I can at least obsess about it in other formats right? hehe ;) :p Plus, I just need visuals, its hard for me to picture if it will all look right otherwise. I'll probably end up drawing 3 or 4 more versions, then spend forever arranging and rearranging the rocks for reals before I'm satisfied. Just worried if I play with the rocks in the tank too much I'll drop one and break the tank!
I completely get it, I always lose focus when scaping, unfortunately i'm terrible at sketching
I also understand the fear of the rocks, I have a large piece of dragonstone in one of mine, that had me on edge

For a plant suggestion, look into some Cryptocoryne, while not a traditional carpet plant(at least I don't think they are :confused:) by the look of the sketch might go really well, "Wendtii" and "Nevilli" should go nicely.
 
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Great looking haul! And yes, you are a far better artist than I am!
 
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Albinosharkman said:
Just bare in mind that the plants will need some sort of fertiliser with the sand. Java moss works OK but it can get pretty messy, it grows like crazy though and on just about anything.
I'm going to use fluval stratum with a bit of Flourite mixed in for the planted sections. I figure that already gives me a leg up compared to my other tanks that are all sand only zero ferts. I may even end up sticking some root tabs in to kick start the carpet but I will admittedly probably never fertilize it again. and yeah, bout the java moss! Love that stuff! It goes crazy in my tanks but I'm ok with it. Hehe So far I just pull the excess growth from tank and fill in bare spots in another. Best free ziplock baggie of plants I eve got! Lol. I'm sure eventually I'll have to start pawning it off on other people, but for now, I figure anything growing that well must be using up a decent amount of waste. My fish love it! I had never thought of trying to carpet with it. I can see how it could work but I think your right that it would get messy looking fast.
 
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tnrsmomma said:
Shooting for something along these lines for the hardscape, with various bits of wood as well. For plants, I'm thinking some larger anubias as well as buce and/or anubis nana petite. Amazon compacta or another small to medium sized sword for the back. Not sure about the "carpet" I just worry I won't be able to get the dwarf hair grass to grow or I'll have to trI'm it all the time. Any ideas for an affordable moss that can grow as a carpet? or an idiot proof short carpet plant. The diagonal valley will all be sand as well as the front two or three inches of the tank. No idea yet how to keep the fluval stratum from falling down into the sand in front, aside from making the hills really low and gradual somehow. Oh, and there will be three little caves tucked into the valley and the hills at the ends of the tank. Thoughts? Does this plan seem doable so far?
Sketch number two looks best in my opinion. Great artistry. It's a skill I've always wished I had lol
 
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RollaPear said:
Sketch number two looks best in my opinion. Great artistry. It's a skill I've always wished I had lol
They ate the same pic, jusy one is more detailed.
 
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RollaPear said:
Sketch number two looks best in my opinion. Great artistry. It's a skill I've always wished I had lol
Thanks! It's never been a skill that comes naturally and I still can't draw people or animals yet for the life of me, but plants and landscape is getting better. Lots and lots and lots of practice makes progress eventually.

My husband definitely prefers it less cluttered with all the added plants as well. If it was up to him, the only plant in the tank would be a lush grass carpet. Trying to find the balanced mash up of the look he likes with the environment the apistos need to breed. I've got to fit at least a few plants in there for line of sight blockers near the cave. I prefer pretty heavy planting, but am trying to rein myself in. Hehe looking at minI sword grass for the "carpet", amazon compacta sword for the tall stuff at the far end of the canyon and the crypts that jinjerJOSH22 suggested as the small plants to tuck near the edges of the canyon and around the caves. I'm going to try to use botanicals/leaf litter, twigs and rocks for some of the line of sight blocking between the caves so that I need less plants.
 
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Amazoniantanklvr said:
They ate the same pic, jusy one is more detailed.
Yup! Wanted to try to save the in between levels with less details so I could look back at each option.
 
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tnrsmomma said:
Thanks! It's never been a skill that comes naturally and I still can't draw people or animals yet for the life of me, but plants and landscape is getting better. Lots and lots and lots of practice makes progress eventually.

My husband definitely prefers it less cluttered with all the added plants as well. If it was up to him, the only plant in the tank would be a lush grass carpet. Trying to find the balanced mash up of the look he likes with the environment the apistos need to breed. I've got to fit at least a few plants in there for line of sight blockers near the cave. I prefer pretty heavy planting, but am trying to rein myself in. Hehe looking at minI sword grass for the "carpet", amazon compacta sword for the tall stuff at the far end of the canyon and the crypts that jinjerJOSH22 suggested as the small plants to tuck near the edges of the canyon and around the caves. I'm going to try to use botanicals/leaf litter, twigs and rocks for some of the line of sight blocking between the caves so that I need less plants.
You approach seems like a good way forward. My only advice would be to make sure there are no dead spots which tends to happen a lot in setups that use them.

As for your drawings they look epic to me. It's a talent I've always wished for but sadly never came to me naturally.
 
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DH and I started excitedly scaping this morning..... then we both remembered it still needs to get moved to its permanent location. SMH ****. Lol Of course we'd gotten all the rocks in the perfect spots and balanced and stuff already. Sigh. Live and learn. At least we hadn't put in the sand cap or any thing else yet! Here's what it looks like now. Time will tell if we are able to recreate this after taking all the rocks out to move the darn thing. Forgive the glare and crappy cellphone pics.
 

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TWiG87

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Looks great! It’ll look even better in its permanent home filled with water lol
 
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Amazoniantanklvr

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Where are you going to put it? The scape looks really nice.
 
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TWiG87 said:
Looks great! It’ll look even better in its permanent home filled with water lol
Thanks!
 
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Amazoniantanklvr said:
Where are you going to put it? The scape looks really nice.
Apistogramma Cacatuoides! 1 M/2 F
Looking at a Farlowella/Twig catfish or a stone cat and 1 or 2 nerites for clean up crew. I'm trying to research and figure out what is going to be the least intrusive for the apistos. I want them to breed. If necessary, we will add a school of neon tetras or some other colorful dither fish. Going to try it without first. I don't want eggs or fry getting eaten. I am not sure yet if either type of cat would be a risk to eggs or fry. I know I don't want to do a school of corys. Well, I'd love another school of corys, lol, but that's too much bottom level activity when the goal is undisturbed breeding.

The pic is our little female that we have already. She's been in our community tank for a couple months now and will move when this new one is cycled. Hopefully that won't take long. I've got some of the driftwood, live plants and the sponges for the filter all seeding in my other tanks.
 

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She is pretty! Where are you going to put the tank? I'm hoing to start breeding agasiziI in a couple months. I'm only going to do a 10 gallon with a pair tho. Otos would be better than a twig. Twigs need a 29 gallon or bigger.
 
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I see a unibrow on that caucatoites...
 
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tnrsmomma said:
I'm finally starting the build on my 20 gallon long tank for breeding Apistogramma Cacatuoides. I thought the 2nd hand tank I am using would be easy to clean but man those hard water stains did not want to come off! Scrubbed with clr, a magic eraser, then bar keeps friend, then used a razor blade for all the stubborn spots still on it. Lots and lots of rinsing but I'm super nervous about putting fish in it after all those chemicals. I'm more than a bit peeved that the lid I ordered cam chipped and cracked. Gotta email Amazon about that. Scape is still a up in the air, but it will be planted of course. I want it as natural as possible, with leaf litter, wood, plants, rocks and caves for breeding. My other tanks are planted but this will be my first time using any sort of fancy planting substrate.
Heading to the lfs monday or tuesday to look at rocks and wood as I'm not inspired or happy with any of the bits and pieces I have floating around. After that, I'll hopefully have a better idea of what I want it to look like!
For now I've poured the bag of fluval in for the fun of it. To rinse or not to rinse though? I've seen mixed reviews on whether or not the fluval stratum should be rinsed. For now, I've left it dry. I'll be back to share more as it progresses!!
Wow, that tank looks huge without anything in it.
 
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Amazoniantanklvr said:
She is pretty! Where are you going to put the tank? I'm hoing to start breeding agasiziI in a couple months. I'm only going to do a 10 gallon with a pair tho. Otos would be better than a twig. Twigs need a 29 gallon or bigger.
The "where" is up for debate at the moment. I know where I had planned to put it, but DH has suddenly decided he doesn't like that idea so we are brainstorming other options. Hopefully in the living room where we can see it easily. If we don't figure out a sturdy way to set it up out there, it will go on the kitchen cou ter where our ten gallon is atm. The 10 will have to move... somewhere. Lol Everywhere I suggest moving it, he gets nervous about whether or not its sturdy enough.

The AgassiziI are gorgeous too! I have a back up plan for using a 10 for the breeding pair if one of the females ends up bullied. If that happens I'll just make the 20 a community tank instead. Hopefully though, with enough caves, line of sight blockage and floor space, the little minI harem will all get along.
 
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Amazoniantanklvr

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Nice! Btw: what is a DH?
 
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Amazoniantanklvr said:
Nice! Btw: what is a DH?
Sorry! Abbreviation for talking about family members. I picked it up in a Boxer dog forum years ago and forget it's not always used in other groups.

DH = dear husband
DS, DD, DW = dear son, dear daughter, dear wife
 
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tnrsmomma said:
Sorry! Abbreviation for talking about family members. I picked it up in a Boxer dog forum years ago and forget it's not always used in other groups.

DH = dear husband
DS, DD, DW = dear son, dear daughter, dear wife
Oh, that makes sense.
 
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Final arrangement!! Heading out to buy plants. Filter and some botanicals have been seeding in other tanks the past week. Getting closer and closer! I plan to fill it up and install a small filter to keep it moving until the main filter has another week or two to grow beneficial bacteria. then I'll move the seeded filter and see how close we are to cycled! Just ignore the placemat in the back. I wanted to protect the glass a bit while I fiddled with the rocks.
 

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AquaticQueen

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Tank looks awesome. Can't wait until there's plants in there. What plants are you doing?
 
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Kdizzle said:
Tank looks awesome. Can't wait until there's plants in there. What plants are you doing?
I'm hoping to find some grass leaves bladderwort to do a carpet with on the dark graveled areas. Or maybe crystalwort, coral moss or pygmy chain sword. Not sure what I'll be able to find. My husband reeeeally wants a carpet. I won't be upset if it doesn't workout in our low tech set up but I'm gonna give it a shot. I have a lot of extra anubias of various sizes at home already. I don't plan on doing much else. If I can get them, I was thinking about two amazon compacta swords. I'd like a couple tall plants on either side of the end of the canyon
 
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Oh! I added a bunch of sticks like dead trees but for got to take a pic of that step before I left.
 
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tnrsmomma said:
I'm hoping to find some grass leaves bladderwort to do a carpet with on the dark graveled areas. Or maybe crystalwort, coral moss or pygmy chain sword. Not sure what I'll be able to find. My husband reeeeally wants a carpet. I won't be upset if it doesn't workout in our low tech set up but I'm gonna give it a shot. I have a lot of extra anubias of various sizes at home already. I don't plan on doing much else. If I can get them, I was thinking about two amazon compacta swords. I'd like a couple tall plants on either side of the end of the canyon
It will be a nice looking tank.
 
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Amazoniantanklvr

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Looks lovely! What about the crate that didnt get covered with sand?
 
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Amazoniantanklvr said:
Looks lovely! What about the crate that didnt get covered with sand?
That's where I added the beach! The canyon and front few inches are soft, beige sand.
 
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